Secretariat conducting regional health survey

Gary Kean
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Joan Cranston stands outside the Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Center (formerly the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital) in Norris Point.

CORNER BROOK — Joan Cranston hopes a survey currently being conducted in western Newfoundland will help improve the delivery of health-care services to the region.

Cranston, a physiotherapist in Norris Point, is a member of the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour regional council of the Rural Secretariat, a government-appointed entity that strives to advance the sustainability of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

The council has combined with the Stephenville-Port aux Basques regional council to conduct a survey that focuses on access to health-care service. Similar to previous surveys it has done on transportation and education, the Rural Secretariat is now engaging the public with the goal of passing on people’s concerns about the health-care system to the policy and decision makers in government.

The surveys are available online and paper copies can also be picked up at some health clinics throughout the region. Some town halls and community service groups also have copies for those who may not have easy access to the online version.

Western Health recently conducted a community needs assessment, but Cranston said steps have been taken to ensure the survey does not duplicate what that needs assessment set out to accomplish.

“We have heard about the stories and the troubles people have accessing services,” said Cranston. “We wanted to see if we could capture that information in a more concrete way.”

The survey includes space where participants can add their own comments about both the good and the bad experiences they may have had while seeking health care. The information will be compiled in a way that will allow it to be broken down by community.

“We are probably going to see pockets where this community has pretty good access to this service and not so good service to that service, while this community has no access at all,” said Cranston.

It’s not just the two regional councils working together on the project. The councils are also collaborating with the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research in St. John’s, which will compile and analyze the data.

The surveys were launched shortly before Christmas and the Rural Secretariat hopes to have them returned by the end of January.

Engaging the public may not end with the anonymous surveys being submitted. Cranston is hoping that some of the participants will agree to participate in more detailed “kitchen table discussions” about their experiences later on.

“These sort of focus groups would be more intimate and informal and, hopefully, people will be more comfortable in sharing their stories in that kind of forum,” said Cranston. “This will give us some more rich information and it is sometimes people’s stories, and not cold statistics, that spark action.”

Fact box:

Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour

The Rural Secretariat Council for the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour extends from Corner Brook, including the Bay of Islands, to Bonne Bay and White Bay, including the Humber Valley and Deer Lake.

Survey link:


Stephenville-Port aux Basques

The Rural Secretariat Council for the Stephenville-Port aux Basques Region extends from Stephenville, including the Port au Port Peninsula, south to Rose Blanche and along the southwest coast to Francois.

Survey link:

Source: Rural Secretariat

Organizations: Rural Secretariat, Stephenville-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research Rocky HarbourThe Rural Secretariat Council for the Corner Brook

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland, Norris Point Bay of Islands Bonne Bay White Bay Humber Valley Stephenville Port au Port Peninsula Rose Blanche

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Recent comments

  • Linda Earle
    January 16, 2013 - 13:53

    The government-run doctor's clinic in Stephenville is not even up to "first world" standards. It is an old military barracks building built in the 1940s. It has old-fashioned, single pane glass windows with no storm windows and two sets of dilapidated concrete steps to access the building. There is one receptionist to answer phones, register patients, and do whatever. You can never get through by phone to make an appointment, so you must travel to the clinic and take a number and sit with sick people coughing around you for up to 40 minutes just to make an appointment. The examination rooms are sparsely furnished with chrome tables and chairs that look like they were made in the 1950s. It is the worst clinic I have ever seen in all of Newfoundland. I am embarrassed that doctors are recuited from other countries and put to work in Canada in that type of environment. We desperately need a walk-in clinic in Stephenville because of 3-4 week wait times to see a family doctor ... if you are lucky enough to have one !!! Wait times for testing and specialist appointments in this province are staggering., nurses are being taken out of seniors homes and being given managment positions in scheduling and administration that they are not trained for. It is the biggest Lose-Lose Situation that I have ever heard of. New Medical Models??? They are NOT working, I am a senior and I have never seen such poor health care in all my life. I was brought up to show respect, but I have no respect for what is happening in our Health/Sickness-inducing Care in this province. It is time for a BIG CHANGE and BACK TO BASICS.

  • minnie
    January 14, 2013 - 08:14

    Why not send forms to Seniors groups, not hard to get addresses just contact the Link Directors for each western nfld is Joan Bowen, Pasadena..Thanks,

  • Donna
    January 14, 2013 - 07:14

    I would strongly encourage people to fill out this survey. There are over 2000 known people in the Corner Brook area without a family doctor. Women who are pregnant that have no GP to follow her through her pregnancy. We are encouraging preventative health care and regular check ups and follow up but patients do not have access to this service. Right now a minor infection, for people without a family doctor, has to be treated in our emergency departments. Corner Brook and area needs a walk in clinic that operates after hours and on weekends. We need to better utilize our Nurse Practitioners who can assess and treat many conditions and provide follow up to those who have chronic illnesses. People are frustrated with lack of access to basic health care so please speak up and fill out this survey and participate in discussion groups it's the only way to get this problem fixed.